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> Whistleblower Faces FBI Probe

Master Of His Domain
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Posts: 12737
Member No.: 8

Posted: Jul 29 2005, 09:32 PM
Quote Post
Whistleblower Faces FBI Probe
By Kim Zetter
The FBI is investigating a computer security researcher for criminal conduct after he revealed that critical routers supporting the internet and many networks have a serious software flaw that could allow someone to crash or take control of them.

Mike Lynn, a former researcher at Internet Security Systems, said he was tipped off late Thursday night that the FBI was investigating him for violating trade secrets belonging to his former employer, ISS.

Lynn resigned from ISS Wednesday morning after his company and Cisco threatened to sue him if he spoke at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas about a serious vulnerability that he found while reverse-engineering the operating system in Cisco routers. He said he conducted the reverse-engineering at the request of his company, which was concerned that Cisco wasn't being forthright about a fix it had recently made to its operating system.

Lynn spoke anyway, discussing the flaw in Cisco IOS, the operating system that runs on Cisco routers, which are responsible for transferring data over much of the internet and private networks.

Although Lynn demonstrated for the audience what hackers could do to a router if they exploited the flaw, he did not reveal technical details that would allow anyone to exploit the bug without doing the same research he did to discover it.

Both companies knew about Lynn's plan to talk for a while and originally supported it. But at the last minute the companies tried to halt the presentation or force Lynn to allow Cisco representatives to speak as well. They threatened Lynn with a lawsuit if he talked and made good on that threat after his appearance, when they filed a restraining order to prevent him from saying anything else about the flaw.

The company said the vulnerability was not new and that it had already patched the problem in April and sent revised software to customers. Lynn said, however, that Cisco did not tell customers exactly why the software was revised or indicate that the update was a critical patch. As a result, he said, system administrators didn't understand the urgency for patching their system. Cisco denied that the flaw was as critical as Lynn said it was.

Prior to the talk Cisco, with agreement from the conference organizers, hired temporary workers to rip out pages from a conference book that contained images of the slides from Lynn's presentation. They also replaced the conference CD-rom with a new disc that was absent the presentation. This hasn't stopped people from obtaining the presentation, however. A site on the internet has posted it for people to download.

The news came just hours after Lynn signed a settlement with Cisco and ISS releasing him from civil liability in exchange for several conditions. Lynn was to provide a mirror image of all computer data he has and give it to a third party for forensic analysis. This was likely to determine if he had stolen proprietary information from ISS or Cisco or broken any other laws. His research material on the vulnerability would then have to be erased. Lynn also was prohibited from discussing any information about the bug in the future.

"I was really mad at ISS before and now I'm extremely disappointed," Lynn told Wired News. "At this point, they're just trying to milk it for punitive damages. We already had a standing agreement, and now they're trying to attack me in some other way."

The FBI declined to discuss the case.

"Our policy is to not make any comment on anything that is ongoing. That's not to confirm that something is, because I really don't know," said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson.

But Lynn's lawyer, Jennifer Granick, confirmed that the FBI told her it was investigating her client.

Granick said, however, that she thought the agency was simply following through on a complaint it received when Cisco and ISS filed their lawsuit against Lynn and that it didn't come after her client reached his settlement. She didn't know the nature of the complaint but said it was probably something to do with intellectual property and that it most likely came from Cisco or ISS.

"The investigation has to do with the presentation," she said, "but what crime that could possibly be is unknown because they haven't found any (evidence against him)."

She hadn't spoken with the U.S. attorney in charge of the investigation but said she thought it was possible that the investigation would wind down soon for lack of evidence, now that Lynn had reached an agreement with Cisco and ISS.

"There's no arrest warrant for (Lynn) and there are no charges filed and no case pending," Granick said. "There may never be. But they got a complaint and as a result they were doing some investigation."

Black Hat ended Thursday afternoon, but it's being followed by the hacker conference, DefCon, which runs in Las Vegas Friday through Sunday and is organized by the same person, security professional Jeff Moss. Many of the same people who attended Lynn's talk, including FBI and other government agents who regularly attend the security conferences, will be at the second conference as well.

Lynn said that if the case was not dropped, he thought it unlikely that the FBI would try to arrest him this weekend.

"I think they got burned with the Dmitry Sklyarov case," he said.

Sklyarov was a Russian programmer who, in 2001, reverse-engineered the software in Adobe's e-book and handed out CD-roms at DefCon containing a program that would allow people to circumvent the copy protection in Adobe's digital books to download and read the books without restriction.

The FBI, at Adobe's urging, arrested Sklyarov the morning after the conference ended before he returned home on charges that he violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for reverse-engineering its system. The move launched protests against Adobe, which resulted in a lot of bad publicity for the company. The government ultimately dropped its case against Sklyarov.

Granick said she did not think the FBI would arrest Lynn.

"Definitely not," she said. "I don't have any sense at all that that's where they're going. I don't know what the circumstances are under which anyone contacted the FBI. It may very well be that given that we settled the civil case yesterday, this is over. I'm hoping that's the case but if it's not, there's a lot of opportunity for people to be very concerned about it."

© Copyright 2005, Lycos, Inc. All Rights Reserved.,1283,

"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
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Minister Of Information
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Posted: Jul 31 2005, 07:29 PM
Quote Post
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATOR Debra Bowen is Quoted as Saying:

"Trusting Microsoft to protect computer users from spam is
like putting telemarketers in charge of the do-not-call list."

----- ---- --- -- - -

Do You Feel It Is OK for the World's Largest Software Monopoly
to Spam and Nobody Else? You Make the Decision...

Shouldn't the Largest Monopoly Worldwide be Setting an Example?

-> Remember MICROSOFT Sends SPAM For Thousands of Companies.

-> Just Because The Words "Microsoft" Aren't In The Spam, It
-> Doesn't Mean They Don't Profit a Fortune in $$$ From Their
-> BCentral Listbuilder Spam For Hire Email Spamming Service.

----- ---- --- -- - -

All Archived for Public Viewing on Google Groups Newsgroups: & Listserv SPAM-L Mailing List

11- "Microsoft is going to spam no matter what anyone says.
The whole "Master suppression list" is a farce. All it
does is keep the most vocal complainers quiet by not
sending any spam to them. Microsoft DOES NOT care what
people want or don't want." - Zeh Suna

12- "there is a creditability problem when Microsoft keeps
spamming after numerous persons have pointed out there
is an abuse problem especially when there is a Master
suppression list." - Richard

13- "My work mailbox has been pretty obscure, so it gets
very little spam generally, and this is the first time
I have ever been spammed at work by an organization
that would be considered "legitimate" by some." - Errol

14- "I was getting an East Coast edition of some Microsoft
newsletter at a nonexistent mail address on a placeholder
website that can't send mail or browse, isn't indexed,
and resides on a BSD box. I don't know where they get
those addresses."
- John Nagle

15- "Just got this from Microsoft themselves. I never
registered with them without a plus-style trap box
(should be tygris+ms@...) so this looks like to be a
Washington-State Law violation. Anyone else get this?
(Also looks like direct to MX spamming, too)"
- Daniel S. Riley

16- "Microsoft haven't been very good about honoring their
commitments to clean up their act. I'd say an RBL is
in their future."
- Jay

17- "Microsoft was even sending spam to a domain I own that
just has a placeholder web page with no contact
information. It can't send mail or web browse at all.
Yet Microsoft spammed it."
- John Nagle

18- "I bounce everything from A few
months ago, they started adding the news. to it, so I
bounce that too."
- Nick Nicholas

19- "There's two ways to LART Micro$haft, fusion warheads
(too destructive to all that nice lumber), and using
- Jason Crowell

20- "I HAD subscribed to about three of their lists,
primarily developer stuff, but when they spammed madly
about 6 - 8 months ago, I went through our contacts
here at IU and got a PR guy, and raised hell."
- Ron

21- "Where is Microsoft getting these email addresses? Are
they buying them from other companies? Are they
stealing them with stream sniffers? (They write the
"TO" address in all uppercase.)"
- Blornx

22- "Microsoft newswire is still spamming. Some of us at
work got one today for Publisher"
- Kelly Striker Price

23- "Microsoft has recently been sending me the German
language edition of the Microsoft Internet Newsletter.
I never signed up for anything from Microsoft, and
certainly not auf Deutsch. Their unsubscribe procedure
doesn't give any feedback."
- Dan Riley

24- "My work email account doesn't get spam, was never given
to Microsoft, and we are not registered users of
Publisher -- we don't even own it or use it"
- Blornx

25- "Microsoft is still Microsoft. following are my spam
report and Microsoft's reply. Gee, how did this get to
be so predictable, how did I know Microsoft's reply
would say that they would take no action towards
reducing their cooperation with this spammer."
- Norman Diamond

26- "Microsoft got lots of press for Microsoft's pretense of
opposing spammers, but all of that is just more lies.
Microsoft will continue cooperating with Microsoft's
spam partners, redirecting from to"
- Darwin

27- "There's no other way to stop receiving their spam...
they won't remove you, and there's no way to LART
- John Nagle

28- "It was the same with me when I complained to Microsoft
about their BCentral counters that were being largely
used in spams. They always answered with the "this mail
did not come from Microsoft" boiler plate, and rarely
wrote back to the followups."
- Darwin
29- "I still get spam from/implicating I
complain through spamcop. Nothing happens."
- Bj

30- "Microsoft has been known to send spam to people who do
not use their junk and have never requested any mail,
alerting these uninterested non-customers to the
availability of patches to fix problems with MS
- Stinky

31- "One of the best spams actually from M$ was the Y2K spam
run. I didn't own a single PC at the time yet I received
this email several times. Go figure."
- Norman

32- "It's easier to just block them. I can't imagine getting
anything, ever, from Microsoft by email"
- Magenta Sky

33- "Now I just got off the telephone with Mike at Microsoft
and he apparently lied to me because I just recieved a
new spam from them"
- Jay

34- "What does it take to stop the spam from Microsoft when
MAPS sits on their hands?"
- Mark Ferguson

35- "Considering how much Microsoft spams, that would be funny
if I weren't sure they know perfectly well they'll be
breaking the law the moment it passes, and just don't care.
And why should they? It's not like the law applies to them."
- Magenta Sky

----- ---- --- -- - -
[SPAMIS: Strategic Partnership Against Microsoft Illegal Spam]
[Part 37 of 178] - SPAMIS - PO BOX 1259 - SEATTLE, WA 98101 - USA

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